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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cheap Ways To Prepare Delicious Meals

This is a guest post by Nancy E., a freelance writer who loves to eat well, healthily, and affordably. In her spare time she loves to learn about education and technology.

Making your own meals is a key way to save money. Spending $40-$60 dollars on groceries can produce enough meals to feed a family for a week. This way you can worry less about affording car insurance, mortgage or rent payments, and other expenses. Utilizing the following tips will save you enough money that you can still buy organic products while making delicious meals without breaking your budget:

Stock and bouillon. Make your own stock for soups (the cheapest option) or buy a can of bouillon. Canned soups may look cheap but they add up and they're unnecessary—you can make your own soup and it'll be healthier and more delicious than anything Campbell's has to offer. Soup is one of the heartiest meals there is because it provides nutritional sustenance while also hydrating you. A spoonful of bouillon, some veggies, spices, and rice can make a delicious soup for about 25 cents.

Make your own sauces and salad dressings. Most sauces and salad dressings are not overly complicated. Many of the ingredients you see on the back are simply preservatives that give the product a longer shelf life. The core active ingredients are usually not complex and can be simulated without spending $5 on a jar. Invest in plenty of lemon, garlic, rosemary, thyme, dill, and pepper (cayenne, black, and white), and then get creative. A spoonful of mustard can add a lot of zest to a marinade, sauce, or salad dressing, as can egg yolk, mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, and butter.

Ferment and pickle your own vegetables. It sounds extreme and complicated, but it's actually not very difficult and can save you from buying condiments and other extras like sauerkraut, pickles, and salad ingredients. Also the lactic acid created during fermentation is excellent for your body.

Rediscover the legume. A remarkable, versatile source of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, legumes are the unsung heros of your refrigerator and pantry. Use them in pastas, salads, or just on their own. Peas, beans, lentils, and nut fill up a plate and stomach nicely and without room for complaints.

Diversify your protein sources. The price of meat has gone up and so has the level of hormones and chemicals it contains. Prepare healthier, cheaper meals by utilizing dairy, eggs, nuts, legumes, and mushrooms. It's a myth that meat is the only way to get enough protein into your diet.

The common thread here is taking a do-it-yourself, active, creative approach to cooking. It doesn't require much time, effort, or money and the benefits are immeasurable for you and your family.

See my disclaimer here.

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